Melinda's Garden: Plan and plant this fall for 3 months of spring color
It’s time to think spring and get busy planning and planting for months of colorful blooms.
The key to getting a continuous parade of spring flowers is to plant bulbs that bloom at different times. Include some early, mid and late spring bloomers. You’ll enjoy the burst of color and sustained beauty that spring-flowering bulbs can provide.
When you think early spring, crocus may be the first bulb that comes to mind, but there are so many colorful choices to welcome spring. Consider adding some cheery periwinkle blue and white Chionodoxa, also known as glory-of-the-snow. Each of these bulbs produces six to ten blossoms, and best of all, you can watch them grow and multiply for years to come.
Brighten wooded areas, rock gardens or any garden bed with the dainty Elwesii snowdrops. These are deer resistant and naturalize readily, so you’ll enjoy more blossoms every spring.
Winter aconites add a splash of yellow, while Siberian squill and Harmony netted iris (Iris reticulata) bring a touch of blue and white. Be sure to include some early-blooming daffodils along with Early Double, Emperor, Flair, Kaufmanniana and Greigii tulips — all perfect for any garden or spring bouquet.
Add a surprising element with checkered lily (Fritillaria meleagris). The petals of these nodding, bell-shaped flowers are covered with an intricate pattern in cream, lavender, purple and burgundy.
Perfume the air with an array of white, red, purple, blue or pink hyacinths. And buy a few extra to force and enjoy indoors.
For mid-spring, include some mood-lifting daffodils like creamy white and yellow Cheerfulness or yellow Double Smiles along with Darwin and Triumph tulips. Mix these with lower-growing grape hyacinths or ground-hugging Grecian windflowers (Anemone blanda) for an extra layer of beauty.
Add some pizzazz with Anemone de Caen Sylphide. These hot-pink flowers with blue-black centers will attract bees, butterflies and second looks from passersby.
Continue your spring extravaganza with late-season tulips. Choose some with unusual flower styles like fringed, parrot, and lily as well as other single and double late-blooming varieties.
Don’t stop there. Alliums provide a colorful bridge between spring bulbs and early summer perennials. The flowers can be as big as basketballs and stand up to four feet tall.
Incorporate a bit of unique beauty with Gravetye Giant leucojums. The blossoms of these long-lived bulbs resemble white Victorian lampshades trimmed with green dots.
Fill shady areas with sky blue, white and pink Spanish bluebells, also known as wood hyacinths. Dangling clusters of bell shaped flowers adorn these 12- to 15-inch-tall plants.
You may also want to include one of the world’s most popular cut flowers, the Dutch iris. Buy these bulbs in bulk to ensure you have plenty of blooms for arrangements.
Now is the time to plan for an extended, colorful spring display. Order your bulbs early for the best selection and plant them any time from mid to late fall. Months of spring beauty ahead!
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including “Small Space Gardening.” She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated “Melinda’s Garden Moment” TV and radio segments.